As part of the continuing build-up for next week's Batman Begins movie, the LA Times Book Review supplement today had two serious reviews of books that reprint Batman comics. Mystery writer and sometimes comic book writer Max Collins writes the main review, which compares the recent Batman Chronicles (which reprints the earliest Batman stories from the 30's and 40's, in chronological order) with 1987's Batman: Year One. Why is Collins reviewing an 18-year-old graphic novel? Because (a) it was written by Frank Miller, who is undergoing a new wave of mainstream popularity because of the Sin City movie; (b) from the previews I've seen, Batman Begins apparently uses some elements of the plot from Year One; and (c) Collins thinks Year One artist Dave Mazzuchelli drew the best Batman ever.
The sidebar review examines Batman: Cover to Cover, the recent coffee table book which collected several of the nicest Batman comic covers from the past 65 years. I got the book as a birthday present and found it delightful. (It even has an essay from a graphic designer on how the Batman comic's logo has changed over the years.)
Myself, I'm enjoying the current comics miniseries Batman: Dark Detective, done by the creative team that, nearly 30 years ago, produced one of the best runs of Batman stories: Writer Steve Englehart, penciller Marshall Rogers, and inker Terry Austin. (They even got the original letterer for their 70's stories, John Workman, to letter this series.) All three have worked together in various combinations on other stories, and each has worked on his own on Batman stories since the mid-seventies, but this is the first time all three have been together on the Dark Knight since 1978. So far the miniseries hasn't jelled like the first run did -- the problem with 27 years of expectations -- but it's still delightful to read in an era in which most Batman comics are filled with boring stories and ugly art.